Park + Jungle at The Off-WHITE Jordan 1 Release
As many of you know, Nike recently released its third colorway of the Air Jordan 1 in its "The Ten" collaboration with Virgil Abloh. Only select retailers around the U.S. had the opportunity to distribute the footwear and good old Xhibition in Cleveland, OH, was one of them.
In the officially released online book, Virgil speaks on the opportunity:
"Here you have a company—it’s obviously massive and focused on innovation and athletic performance—and then you have a kid like me who’s like staring at every poster, going to school wearing Nike basketball, wanting to play like Jordan. I believe that culture moves on this sort of wavelength. That a young generation possesses ideas that an older generation can now learn from in any genre, whether it’s art, fashion, architecture, music. I see it as a renaissance instead of an Armageddon."
Virgil's DNA aligns with Nike's history in an almost perfect way. Tinker Hatfield, regarded as one of the greatest sneaker designers of all time, certainly in Nike's history, was an architecture student when he began drafting kicks for Phil Knight. The parallel comes into play when you realize that Virgil, too, is also an architect.
Housed in an off-location warehouse, the Air Jordan 1 event found itself with a line of around 200 people wrapped alongside the brick exterior, all eager to hear their ticket called. A live DJ played his set to a crowd while a projector flashed images of Jordan in his UNC days dunking over opponents.
I had gone to the Xhibition boutique a few days before the event to get a raffle ticket. I was handed number 150. Finally being at the event surrounded by a sea of people became the ultimate test of patience. Mannn, I swear I heard every combination and everything close to the number 150 besides it. The guy on the microphone kept shouting out numbers. "149!! Make way people, make way!!! 105!!! 501!!! 151..151?!! 152!!.. Fortunately my time came and I was able to grab a pair. As I waded my way through the crowd like I was selected for the Hunger Games, people called out to me. "Bro, I got $500...I'll cash you out now." or "You checkin' that StockX? How much you selling them for?"
While amusing, it does reaffirm a realization that a lot of the "culture" showed up to make sales, not collect kicks. There was appreciation for the event, but best believe people were out there about their business.
I'm still thinking about whether or not I'm selling mine. I can't lie though - Virgil inspired me with his first LV show. In his latest interview he has repeatedly pointed his success back to the culture. His first IG post after the show said something to the effect of "You can do it too." I can't help but respect it.
The Air Jordan 1 is such a classic silhouette, it's hard to think one could set out to improve it. It's like the work Dieter Rams did for Braun- its already so minimalist it seems like any tweak would mess it up. The fact that Virgil was able to "reconstruct" a classic and garner this level of response is special.
One of the most striking details is that the side completely removes the original Nike Swoosh in favor of quotations and San Serif fonts. It now reads: Off-White TM for NIKE “AIR JORDAN 1″ Beverton, Oregon USA c. 1985”. The lateral side of the shoe does have a Swoosh on it, but it appears to only be connected to the shoe by the visible Blue stitching noted on both ends of the Swoosh. The shoe comes with a total of four different lace options, and the box is cut so that the lid creates a sort of peek hole that you're able to view the shoes through. It's a mixture of canvas, leather, and mesh fabrics all put together in a way that doesn't feel quite yet done, but the details reaffirm intention and thoughtfulness.
I think it's natural to try to categorize/compare people and what they do to what we've seen in the past. I'm not sure if I've heard this comparison before, but through this collaboration I see Virgil as a sort of Marcel DuChamp/ Readymade artist, which is pretty cool when you stop to consider it.